Social media creating epidemic of child mental health issues – NHS boss
THE NHS must not be left to ‘pick up the pieces’ from irresponsible social media firms, its chief executive has warned.
Simon Stevens warned of an ‘epidemic’ of mental health problems amongst young people triggered by ‘actors’ such as Facebook and Instagram.
He called for ‘searching questions’ to be asked of social media firms and technology companies about the impact they were having on childhood.
A fifth of adolescents experience a mental health problem in any given year and experts say the prevalence is becoming increasingly common.
Earlier this week a coalition of charities called for social media firms to have a ‘duty of care’ – enshrined by law – to protect children from potential mental health conditions.
They said the sites were responsible for increases in online bullying, internet addiction and self-harm amongst children which were very often undetected by parents.
Mr Stevens warned that children of today were facing a ‘double epidemic’ of obesity and mental health conditions, caused by the ‘stresses and strains of adolescence.’
Addressing the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester, he highlighted the key priorities for the NHS over the next few years including cancer and children’s mental health.
He said: ‘The conversation about young people’s mental health has got to be wider than just what the NHS can do.
‘Certainly it’s about schools but we also have to ask some pretty searching questions about the role of technology companies, social media and the impact that is having on childhood.
‘This cannot be a conversation left to the National Health Service to pick up the pieces for an epidemic of mental health challenge for our young people induced by many other actors across our economy.’